A plant-based diet is likely to help in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults, according to a study. The research stated that diets, excluding sugar, starch and refined grains, are more beneficial to prevent this chronic illness in people belonging to all age groups regardless of their body mass index (BMI).

The study that was published in the medical journal JAMA internal Medicine on Monday further explained the importance of focussing on a diet that is rich in fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

“We found that eating plant-based diets was associated with, on average, 23% reduction in diabetes risk,” senior study author Qi Sun, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said in a statement.

“We further showed that individuals who consumed a healthy version of the plant-based diet by emphasizing the intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and minimizing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and refined carbohydrates, had a further 30% reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. I would describe these risk reductions as being quite significant,” the researcher added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there is a rapid rise in the people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes world-wide. The international health body stated that people with this chronic illness has increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

In the United Stated, over 30 million people or nearly one in every 10 individuals have diabetes and around 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

For the study, the research team analyzed the data of nine previous studies that involved 23,544 cases of type 2 diabetes. All the previously published researches tried to find a link between this chronic disease and a plant-based diet.

At the end of the new study, the researchers found that a plant-based eating habit can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in all age groups, regardless of their BMI even though obesity is believed to increase the risk of developing this disease.

Though the research did not specify if a complete vegetarian diet were more beneficial than a plant-based diet with animal products, the senior study author said even a plant-based diet with animal products can be beneficial.

“There are many types of diets that can be regarded as a plant-based diet, ranging from the strict vegan diet, the vegetarian diets, to diets that emphasize the intake of plant-based foods but do not completely exclude animal product intake,” senior study author said.

“Keep in mind that many healthy eating patterns, such as Mediterranean diet or DASH diet, are also largely plant-based. For people who already practice these diets, I think they are on the right path,” he added.

However, the study has its own limitations mainly because the dietary data collected for the study were poorly based on self-reporting eating habits of people, which poses a risk of inaccuracy and bias. The study researchers were also not able to prove if there is a casual relationship between plant-based diet and the risk of type 2 diabetes. More research will be needed to prove it.

Diabetics patients with NAFLD or NASH are at higher risk of developing liver cancer or cirrhosis. Pixabay